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The University of St. Thomas (UST) is Houston’s Catholic University, committed to the Catholic intellectual tradition and the dialogue between faith and reason. Our blog is dedicated to helping you explore your future career possibilities and how to make the most of your college experience.

Living in Houston

The College Student’s Guide to Living in Houston

When it comes to choosing a college, most students know that it’s important to look for graduate success stories, abundant professional development opportunities and excellent faculty members. It’s obviously important to think about what you’ll be studying in college, but it’s just as critical to consider where you’ll be attending college.

Maybe you recognize that you want to spend your college years in Houston, Texas. That’s a wise decision for anyone looking for a city with a rich history, thriving arts scene and expanding job market. To help you gain a better sense of what it’s like being a student living in Houston, you may find it helpful to hear some firsthand insight. You’re in luck, because University of St. Thomas (UST) student Brianna Amaya is happy to talk about the city she calls home.

“I grew up here, but I was very intentional about seeing Houston in a different light during school,” Amaya says. “I love it.”

The city has continued to grow on Amaya, who’s now working toward her Master of Arts in Theology at UST. Take a look at what else she has to say about living — and learning — in this location.

Why do students enjoy living in Houston?

As far as activities go, there’s something for just about every interest in this location. It’s a city that people from all different backgrounds call home. In fact, Houston’s population is far more diverse than the U.S. as a whole. The variety of cultural backgrounds infuses into everything from the traditions to the food.

“I love how diverse it is,” Amaya enthuses. 

For starters, this Texas destination has numerous professional major league teams in sports ranging from football to soccer. You can also head to any number of minor league or college athletic competitions. Folks who are fascinated by science and exploration, on the other hand, will want to check out the nearby space museum. This popular attraction houses a wide array of exhibits and hosts various events. Art and history fans will also enjoy what the city has to offer.

“I’ve found Houston to be a historical gem” Amaya says. “UST is located about a mile from the museum district, which is really nice. We have our holocaust museum right down the street. Plus the fine arts museum.”

And if dining is more your thing? “They have food galore in Midtown,” Amaya enthuses. “Anything you can think of — we have it.”

Where do students typically find housing in Houston?

It’s common for students and their parents to ask whether it makes sense to live in the residence halls or elsewhere. At UST, about half of freshmen live on campus. But in truth, the right decision for you really depends on your specific wants and needs. Amaya does suggest that students who are coming from other cities and states consider living in the residence halls.

“I’ve heard that students adapt better if they live on campus,” she offers. “After making connections with people, you can always move to a different spot if you want to.”

Because so many students commute, they really live all over. Some drive 30 minutes or more, particularly if they live with their parents. But you might want to consider something closer to campus if you don’t have a vehicle. Here are a few popular neighborhoods students like:

  • Montrose is probably the most popular neighborhood among UST students. It’s centrally located and has great restaurants at every corner. “If you live in this area, you can get around by foot, bus or bike,” Amaya explains.
  • The Heights is shorthand for Houston Heights. It’s full of unique shops and architecture that dates back to the 1800s.
  • East Downtown, more commonly called EaDo, is an ethnically diverse neighborhood that’s growing in popularity. You’ll find students from a few different schools who live in this area.

What are students’ favorite places around Houston?

There are great places to visit in every corner of this city. It’s pretty sprawling at 655 square miles, so it’s worth planning weekend trips to destinations that are a bit farther away. Amaya has personally found it helpful to get around by car. That said, there’s plenty to do right in the heart of Houston as well. There’s also public transportation when you need it.

“There are so many parks,” Amaya says. “It’s nice to just go walk around, grab some coffee and study.” And she has even more suggestions. Dive into some student-approved destinations.

Can’t-miss coffee shops

Whether you’re just looking for a quick caffeine boost or want a cozy place to study, there are numerous coffee shops that are happy to accommodate. “Black hole is about a two-minute walk away from campus,” Amaya enthuses. “I see a lot of students there.”

The shortlist:

Historical sites worth seeing

Many of the neighborhoods themselves are infused with the city’s past, but there are some specific destinations you should make time for as well. “The San Jac [San Jacinto] monument is such a big part of Texas history,” Amaya explains. “I think it is a must-see for everyone.” And keep in mind that historical sites like these are great destinations to visit when you have family or friends in town.

The shortlist:

Fantastic restaurants for dining out

For a food-lover like Amaya, UST couldn’t be in a better location. “We’re basically in the hub in the Westheimer and Montrose area.” There are restaurants that specialize in nearly every type of cuisine. One of Amaya’s favorites is Les Givral’s Kahve.

“It’s a Vietnamese sandwich place,” she explains. “Their banh mi is less than $5. I go there a lot.”

The shortlist:

Incredible outdoor destinations

It’s honestly hard to narrow down the list of great places to enjoy being outside. Houston is filled with great outdoor spaces, and one of them just happens to be right next to UST: Memorial Park. Amaya loves their multipurpose trail. She’s also a huge fan of heading to the water.

“Armand bayou is the last natural bayou in Houston and it’s gorgeous,” Amaya says. “I like to kayak there.”

The shortlist:

Can you picture yourself living in Houston?

By now, you can probably see why so many college students love living in Houston. And many of them end up staying in the area long after obtaining their degree. It certainly helps that there are so many job opportunities for local graduates.

If you want to take advantage of all this city has to offer students, you’ll probably want to start looking into your higher education options. The University of St. Thomas provides every student with countless networking opportunities and a foundational education that can prepare you for career paths ranging from financial analysis to nursing.

To learn more about UST’s academic programs, current students and graduate outcomes, visit the Key Facts & Stats page.

About the Author — Staff

AvatarThe University of St. Thomas is the only Catholic, liberal arts university in Houston, Texas. We have 35+ undergraduate majors including STEM, Nursing, Business, Education and Pre-Med. Located in a vibrant urban environment just minutes from downtown and the famed Texas Medical Center, we welcome students of all races and religions to our diverse and collaborative campus.

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